RI Center for the Book

National Book Festival: Children’s Selection

Congratulations to Elizabeth Rush and Christopher Denise! The Quickening and Knight Owl are the 2023 Rhode Island Great Reads books and our submissions for the National Book Festival in Washington, DC on August 12th, 2023.  The Quickening is our adult selection and Knight Owl is our kids selection.

About Knight Owl

A Caldecott Honor Winner and New York Times Bestseller! 

A determined Owl builds strength and confidence in this medieval picture book about the real mettle of a hero: wits, humor, and heart. 

Since the day he hatched, Owl dreamed of becoming a real knight. He may not be the biggest or the strongest, but his sharp nocturnal instincts can help protect the castle, especially since many knights have recently gone missing. While holding guard during Knight Night Watch, Owl is faced with the ultimate trial—a frightening intruder. It’s a daunting duel by any measure. But what Owl lacks in size, he makes up for in good ideas.
Full of wordplay and optimism, this surprising display of bravery proves that cleverness (and friendship) can rule over brawn.

About the Author: Christopher Denise is an award-winning children’s book illustrator. His first book, The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, a retelling of the Russian folktale, was pronounced “a stunning debut” by Publishers Weekly. Since then, Chris has illustrated more than twenty books for children, including Anne Marie Pace’s Groundhug Day, Alison McGhee’s Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells’ Following Grandfather, Phyllis Root’s Oliver Finds His Way, his wife Anika Denise’s Bunny in the Middle and Baking Day at Grandma’s and some in Brian Jacques’ acclaimed Redwall series.

Knight Owl, released in March 2022, marked his author-illustrator debut, and was awarded a Caldecott Honor by the American Library Association. It has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, won the Barnes & Noble Children’s & YA Book Awards, sold over 25 foreign licenses, and has been featured across multiple trade reviews and best book lists.

Several of his other books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and have been recognized by Bank Street College of Education, Parents’ Choice Foundation, and the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. Christopher Denise lives in Rhode Island with his family.


The Library of Congress National Book Festival is an annual literary event that brings together best-selling authors and thousands of book fans for author talks, panel discussions, book signings and other activities. The 22nd Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate “Books Bring Us Together” in 2022, featuring the creativity and inspiration of some of the nation’s most gifted authors on September 3rd. The event showcases the importance of books and reading. Every year, the Library of Congress asks each state Center for the Book to select a title that represents the state’s literary landscape to highlight at the National Book Festival, these titles are part of the Great Reads From Great Places Initiative. The Rhode Island Center for the Book has chosen The Quickening and Knight Owl as the Rhode Island Great Reads for 2023.

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